Ban Ki-moon, born June 13, 1944 is a South Korean diplomat who was the eighth Secretary-General of the United Nations from January 2007 to December 2016. Before becoming Secretary-General, Mr. Ban was a career diplomat in South Korea’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and in the United Nations.
As the eighth Secretary-General of the United Nations Ban Ki-moon´s priorities were to mobilize world leaders around a set of new global challenges, from climate change and economic upheaval to pandemics and increasing pressures involving food, energy and water. He was a bridge-builder, giving a voice to the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people, and strengthening the Organization itself.
Mr. Ban held office from on 1 January 2007 to 31 December 2016. On 21 June 2011, he was unanimously re-elected by the General Assembly for a second mandate.
One of the Secretary-General’s first major initiatives was the 2007 Climate Change Summit, followed by extensive diplomatic efforts that have helped put the issue at the forefront of the global agenda. At the height of the food, energy and economic crises in 2008, the Secretary-General successfully appealed to the G20 for a $1 trillion financing package for developing countries.
Under Ban´s leadership in 2015 countries adopted a set of 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all as part of a new sustainable development agenda. Each goal has specific targets to be achieved until 2030 and to leave no one behind.
Mr. Ban also led the efforts for the Paris Climate Agreement, which entered into force in 2016 less than a year later. Countries agreed to work to limit global temperature rise to well below 2 degrees Celsius, and given the grave risks, to strive for 1.5 degrees Celsius.
The Secretary-General pressed successfully for the creation of UN Women, a major new agency that consolidates the UN’s work in this area. His advocacy for women’s rights and gender equality has also included the “Unite to End Violence against Women” campaign, the “Stop rape Now” initiative, the creation of a “He for She” campaign and the establishment of a new Special representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict. Within the UN itself, the Secretary-General has increased the number of women in senior management positions by more than 40 per cent, reaching the highest level in the Organization’s history.
Ban Ki-moon has sought to strengthen UN peace efforts, including through the New Horizons peacekeeping initiative, the Global Field Support Strategy and the Civilian Capacity Review, a package of steps to improve the impact of the 120,000 United Nations “blue helmets” operating in the world’s conflict zones. Accountability for violations of human rights has received high-level attention through inquiries related to Gaza, Guinea, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, legal processes in Lebanon and Cambodia, and advocacy for the “responsibility to protect,” the new United Nations norm aimed at preventing and halt genocide and other grave crimes. He has also sought to strengthen humanitarian response in the aftermath of mega-disasters in Myanmar (2008), Haiti (2010) and Pakistan (2010), and mobilized UN support for the democratic transitions in North Africa and the Middle East.
Mr. Ban has sought to rejuvenate the disarmament agenda through a five-point-plan, efforts to break the deadlock at the Conference on Disarmament and renewed attention to nuclear safety and security in the aftermath of the tragedy at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant.
The Secretary-General has introduced new measures aimed at making the United Nations more transparent, effective and efficient.
At the time of his election as Secretary-General, Mr. Ban was his country’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade. His 37 years of service with the Ministry included postings in New Delhi, Washington D.C. and Vienna, and responsibility for a variety of portfolios, including Foreign Policy Adviser to the President, Chief National Security Adviser to the President, Deputy Minister for Policy Planning and Director-General of American Affairs.
In 1985, Ban Ki-moon had earned a master’s degree in public administration from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University after he had completed a bachelor’s degree in international relations from Seoul National University in 1970.
Ban Ki-moon and his wife, Madam Yoo (Ban) Soon-taek, whom he met in high school in 1962, have one son, two daughters and three grandchildren.